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Q: One visitor asked, "I was reading your site and saw that one should not use oil based cleaners. Why? Our installer told us to use vinegar in water, and use a damp cloth to clean the floor about once a week. Will this damage the floor? What is a polyurethane cleaner? Where do you buy it?"

A: If an oil based cleaner is used on polyurethane finished floors, it leaves an oily residue on the surface which can not only make cleaning the floor more difficult, but after a period of time, when the floor is showing signs of wear and needs to be buffed and recoated, this residue can present adhesion problems. When cleaning any hardwood floor, or furniture, minimal water should be used. In other words, wipe with a dampened, not wet cloth. Adding a capful of vinegar can help and is suggested by the National Wood Flooring Association. However, I have heard one floor finish manufacturer dispute this, believing the vinegar is too acidic and can break down the finish eventually. The absolutely simple and safe way to clean any sort of wood that is finished with a urethane is to use polyurethane cleaners which are manufactured by both hardwood flooring manufacturers and manufacturers of polyurethane. I use Squeeky Cleaner from Basic Coatings. Any hardwood flooring supplier near you should carry this or similar product. Also, Home Depot is a likely place to look, since they do sell hardwood flooring. This cleaner is usually blue in color, and is mixed 4 parts water to one part cleaner in a spray bottle. Mist some on a cloth and wipe. You can use this to clean any wood finished with urethane top coats.


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